President Obama unveils sweeping emissions reduction plan

Earlier today, President Obama unveiled his Clean Power Plan, a set of rules for states that, taken together, will lead to a reduction in fossil fuel emissions from power plants of 32 percent compared to their 2005 level by the year 2030.

The rules are a step beyond the original version of the plan, which was put forward last year and then revised. They set individual carbon reduction goals for each state, which can be achieved through a variety of options that include increased renewables, greater efficiency or simply building fewer coal-fired plants.

As the Washington Post notes, many of these reductions are already taking place; the Clean Power Plan simply builds on them and moves them along faster. While going further than originally proposed, the plan is also more flexible, taking criticisms of the original proposal into account. From the Post:

Many states will face tougher requirements for lowering greenhouse-gas emissions under the revised plan. But state governments also will be given more time to meet their targets and considerably more flexibility in how they achieve their pollution-cutting goals, according to two senior officials knowledgeable about the rule. For the first time, the officials said, the plan also includes a “reliability safety valve” that can buy states additional time if needed to avoid disruptions in the power supply.

The program also includes a provision that will incentivize earlier deployment of renewable energy, such as solar and wind, as opposed to natural gas, avoiding an “early rush to gas,” as the administration calls it.

Global climate change, via Creative Commons

Global climate change, via Creative Commons

The program makes good on the administration’s pledge to the United Nations to curb emissions by between 26 and 28 percent under 2005 levels by 2025, with emissions projected to be lowered 27 percent by the year 2020.

The moves available to President Obama to curb greenhouse gas emissions are, for all intents and purposes, limited to the EPA given the state of gridlock in Congress, which couldn’t pass cap-and-trade — to say nothing of a carbon tax — during his first two years with majorities in both houses.

In any case, this move marks the biggest step taken by the American government to push back against climate change. To be clear, it probably isn’t enough to save Miami, but it’s a lot — progress on which another president committed to acting on climate could build.

Of course, that would require a president committed to acting on climate. Welp, nevermind.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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14 Responses to “President Obama unveils sweeping emissions reduction plan”

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  2. Bill_Perdue says:

    After Obama trashed the environment with his massive push for fracking and limitless offshore drilling this is a palliative at best by an enemy of the movement to limit damage to the environment. And, as Gary says, it’s just more campaign related intestinal gas.

  3. Indigo says:

    That’s difficult to believe. I have the distinct impression that his mother’s family is exactly that.

  4. Indigo says:

    I was thinking more along the lines of establishing an undersea habitat a la Jacques Cousteau. There’s a nice reef off Cape Canaveral that could shelter a neo-Atlantean experimental community if funding were available. As things stand, the indifference is so complete that with any luck at all, the Ohioans will all pack up their Winnebagos and motor away. We’ll be fine once we grow gills.

  5. 2karmanot says:

    Make sure you can find an Evinrude large enough to fit your condo, and stock a year’s supply of mega paddles. Redoux Noah is coming.

  6. 2karmanot says:

    Several years ago Nebraska ordered the removal of large stands of Cottonwoods and wild Willows around rivers and streams.

  7. 2karmanot says:

    COALghazi!

  8. nicho says:

    That too. But millions of more gallons are used in fracking, which makes people sick, pollutes groundwater, and increases the chance of earthquakes (just what CA needs).

    Another water waster are millions of tamarisk trees. They are non-native and highly invasive. They breed like rabbits on meth. And one tamarisk can use as much water in a month as my household does.

    Imagine if the state formed a conservation corps to remove all the trees. It would have the effect of providing employment while reducing water wasting by billions of gallons. But they won’t do that. They’ll tell homeowners they have to live in filth.

  9. emjayay says:

    WARONCOALWARONCOALWARONCOAL!!!!

    Because Obama hates hillbillies or something.

  10. emjayay says:

    The California problem is the highly taxpayer subsidized water sent to agriculture which has led to essentially sending California water to other states and countries in the form of high water use crops, and unlimited and unsustainable use of ground water by agriculture.

  11. nicho says:

    Wake me up when they stop punishing homeowners for going solar. Utilities in some states have already started penalizing people. In California, we’re being forced to reduce water use (while they’re still allowing fracking, BTW), but now they’re talking about raising water rates because our conservation efforts are hurting profits. Obama can propose all he wants, but corporate profits will always trump efforts to save the human race.

  12. Indigo says:

    But the ocean is already bubbling up from the street drains on Miami Beach and Merritt Island (around Cape Canaveral and the Spaceport). Where’s the funding for the stilt houses and gondolas we’re going to need?

  13. Indigo says:

    Well, there is that, but it’s a collateral benefit at best.

  14. GarySFBCN says:

    Let me correct that headline for you: “President Obama unveils sweeping emissions reduction plan, but it is just a campaign strategy to further push Republicans to portray themselves as the ‘anti-science’ party. “

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